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Published : December 15, 2023, Updated : January 23, 2024

What is a 40 feet container? Sizes and Capacity of 40ft Containers

What is a 40 feet container? Sizes and Capacity of 40ft Containers

Welcome to the world of shipping, where the humble 40-foot container takes center stage in the seamless movement of goods across the globe. These containers, standardized for efficiency and versatility, play a crucial role in international trade.

Let’s delve into the sizes and capacities of these 40ft containers to understand their significance in the shipping industry.

What is a 40 feet Container in Shipping?

A 40-foot container in shipping is a standardized metal box designed for transporting goods across various modes of transportation, including ships, trains, and trucks.

It has a length of 40 feet, a width of 8 feet, and a height of 8 feet and 6 inches. These containers are commonly used in international shipping to ensure consistency and efficiency in cargo transport.

The 40-foot container is one of the standard sizes, offering a considerable volume of space for goods while adhering to global shipping industry standards. Its widespread use makes it a key component in the seamless flow of goods across the world.

The 40-Foot Shipping Container: Dimensions for Global Efficiency

The standard 40-foot shipping container boasts the following dimensions and specifications in both imperial and metric measurements:

Exterior Dimensions:

  • In feet: 40’ long x 8’ wide x 8’ 6” high
  • In meters: 12.19m long x 2.44m wide x 2.59m high

Interior Dimensions:

  • In feet: 39’ 6” long x 7’ 9” wide x 7’ 10” high
  • In meters: 12.025m long x 2.352m wide x 2.393m high

Usable Capacity:

  • 67.70 cubic meters or 2390.80 cubic feet.

Door Opening:

  • In feet: 7.5
  • In meters: 2.28

These standardized dimensions ensure uniformity and efficiency in global shipping practices, providing a substantial and regulated space for the transportation of goods.

Different Types of 40ft Shipping Containers

Explore the world of 40ft shipping containers, each serving a unique purpose:

40ft Standard Containers: Closed on all sides with doors at one or both ends, ideal for general goods.

40ft High Cube Containers: One foot taller than standard containers, offering extra vertical space.

40ft Flat Rack Containers: Featuring walls or support posts only on the ends, some with optional side walls.

40ft Open-Top Containers: With open ceilings or covered by a plastic sheet, facilitating easy loading.

40ft Reefer Containers: Refrigerated units for transporting temperature-sensitive items.

40ft Stora Enso Cargo Unit (SECU) Containers: Customized for shipping bulk cargo, especially paper, with variable height.

40ft Car Carrier Containers: Specialized for international car transportation via rail, road, or even ocean freight.

40ft Pallet Wide Containers: Slightly wider than standard containers, designed to accommodate a large number of Euro pallets.

Each type serves a specific need, from general cargo to specialized transport, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of these standardized containers in the complex world of global shipping.

What is the Capacity of a 40-foot Shipping Container?

The standard 40-foot shipping container has a usable capacity of 67.70 cubic meters or 2390.80 cubic feet. This provides ample space for the efficient and secure transportation of goods across various industries and global shipping networks.

How to Load a 40ft Shipping Container?

Loading a 40ft shipping container is a step-by-step process that ensures safe and efficient transport of goods. Here’s a breakdown in easy-to-understand language:

Preparation is Key

  • Use new boxes and add bubble wrap to protect items inside.
  • Wrap delicate items with stretch wrap for added safety against dust and damage.

Check and Note

  • Examine the container’s condition, cleanliness, locks, and serial numbers.
  • Note these details for future reference.

Strategic Loading

  • Distribute cargo evenly to prevent excessive movement during transit.
  • Start by placing the largest pallets or goods at the bottom level.

Protect Corners and Walls (

  • Wrap furniture and goods loaded along corners and walls to prevent scratches.

Secure with Nylon Rope

  • Use nylon rope to tie goods to rings on the floor or sides of the container for added stability.

Group Similar Items

  • Pack similar items together, like books, furniture, or glassware, for organized loading.

Special Considerations

  • Disassemble battery systems, fuel, and alarm systems for vehicles, equipment, or electronics.
  • Ensure the number plate of vehicles faces the door as per regulations in many countries.

Follow Regulations

  • Adhere to the rules set by the shipping authority or relevant bodies while loading goods.

By following these steps, loading a 40ft container becomes a systematic and regulated process, ensuring the safe and secure transport of various items.

Advantages of 40ft Shipping Containers

Here are some of the main advantages of 40ft shipping containers:

Ample Space: With a significant internal volume, 40ft containers offer ample space for transporting large quantities of goods, making them versatile for various industries.

Standardization: These containers follow international standards, ensuring compatibility with various transportation modes like ships, trains, and trucks, streamlining logistics on a global scale.

Cost-Efficiency: Utilizing standard-sized containers enhances cost-efficiency in loading, unloading, and transportation, reducing handling expenses and making shipping more economical.

Versatility: 40ft containers come in various types, including standard, high cube, flat rack, and reefer containers, offering flexibility to transport diverse cargo types, from general goods to refrigerated items.

Intermodal Compatibility: Designed to seamlessly transfer between different modes of transportation, 40ft containers facilitate efficient intermodal shipping, optimizing the entire logistics chain.

Cargo Security: The standardized and sealed design of these containers ensures the security of goods during transit, protecting them from external elements and potential damage.

Global Trade Facilitation: Being a standard in international shipping, 40ft containers play a pivotal role in facilitating smooth global trade, contributing to the interconnectedness of economies.

Ease of Handling: The standardized dimensions of these containers simplify handling procedures at ports, warehouses, and transportation hubs, streamlining the overall supply chain.

Customization Options: Beyond the standard type, there are specialized 40ft containers catering to specific cargo needs, such as high cube for taller items or reefer containers for temperature-sensitive goods.

Sustainability: Reusable and recyclable, 40ft containers contribute to sustainable shipping practices, aligning with environmentally conscious approaches in the transportation industry.

Multiple Uses of 40ft Shipping Containers

Know about the different uses of a 40ft shipping containers below:

Storage Solutions: 40ft containers serve as excellent on-site storage units, offering a secure and weather-resistant space for keeping goods, equipment, or personal belongings.

Construction Sites: These containers are widely repurposed as construction site offices, tool storage, or even as temporary housing solutions for workers, providing a quick and sturdy setup.

Pop-Up Shops: Entrepreneurs utilize 40ft containers to create innovative pop-up shops or cafes, capitalizing on their portable nature and customizable interior for unique business ventures.

Housing and Accommodation: With proper modifications, 40ft containers can be transformed into compact living spaces, affordable housing units, or temporary accommodations for various purposes.

Art Studios: Artists and craftsmen repurpose these containers into spacious and well-lit art studios, utilizing their robust structure and easy customization.

Event Spaces: Modified 40ft containers are employed as event spaces for outdoor gatherings, festivals, or exhibitions, providing a distinctive and mobile venue solution.

Off-Grid Living: For sustainable living enthusiasts, 40ft containers can be converted into off-grid homes, integrating renewable energy sources and eco-friendly technologies.

Mobile Workshops: Tradespeople often transform these containers into mobile workshops, equipped with tools and equipment, allowing them to work on-site efficiently.

Emergency Shelters: In disaster-stricken areas, 40ft containers can be rapidly converted into emergency shelters, offering quick and secure housing solutions for affected communities.

Farming and Agriculture: Containers are adapted for agricultural use, serving as storage for tools, mobile farm stands, or even as controlled environments for hydroponics or aquaponics systems.

Outdoor Cafeterias: Container modifications enable the creation of outdoor cafeterias or food stalls, providing a unique and trendy dining experience in various settings.

Gardening Spaces: Modified containers serve as compact gardening spaces, allowing individuals to cultivate plants, herbs, or vegetables in a controlled environment.

The adaptability and robustness of 40ft shipping containers make them valuable across diverse industries and creative applications, showcasing their versatility beyond traditional cargo transport.


In conclusion, the 40ft shipping container stands as a linchpin in the intricate dance of global trade, ensuring seamless and standardized transportation of goods worldwide. Its standardized dimensions, diverse types, and multifaceted applications underscore its pivotal role in various industries beyond shipping.

From facilitating international commerce to serving as innovative spaces for living, working, and creating, the 40ft container’s adaptability cements its status as a cornerstone in the dynamic landscape of logistics and beyond.

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